“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” -- Dr. Seuss
With inches, upon inches of snow on the ground, I think it is safe to say it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This is my favorite time of year and as I keep reiterating, I have so many blessings this holiday season to be thankful for, and the title of Miss Wayne County is one of them.
With the last three weeks being a whirlwind with WDIV Local 4, I have not had time toreflect upon my last few appearances, which I want to make note of. On November 29th, I had the privilege of volunteering at The Pink Door. The Pink Door is a non profit breast imaging funding resource for the uninsured and underserved that is focused on providing quality breast imaging at locations convenient to the women and men they serve. It was wonderful to have Samantha Steckloff, Miss Oakland County 2007, there to share in the holiday festivities. She is a remarkable young woman that our organization is lucky to have!
A few days later, December 1st, was the 41st annual Wayne-Westland Junior Miss Program. This is where my pageant journey truly began, and it is always so heart warming going back each year to the show. America's Junior Miss is the oldest and largest scholarship program for high school senior girls in the nation, awarding nearly $90 million in cash scholarships since its establishment. Junior Miss strives to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future, which is exactly what it did for me. I am so proud to congratulate Raven Rickard, Wayne- Westland's Junior Miss 2008. Raven is the daughter of my lifelong dance instructor and is very deserving of the title. I will be there rooting for her at the state level in March! I also want to congratulate Carol Baker on her first and successful year as the WWJM director.
The weeks following Junior Miss were consumed with training at WDIV; however, I was able to squeeze in a very important appearance benefiting Children's Miracle Network. On Friday, December 14th, I joined Kirsten Haglund, Miss Michigan 2007 along with several other local titleholders at a Radio/Telethon for Devos Children's Hospital. It was wonderful seeing our beautiful Miss Michigan once again before she heads off to represent our state at Miss America. I truly cannot wait to go to Las Vegas to cheer her on. She is an exceptional representative that we should all be very proud of. Volunteering at this event was extremely touching. Listening to callers tell their stories about how CMN has impacted their child's life really put things in perspective for me. The partnership between CMN and MAO can create incredible opportunities for deserving children in our state. I want to thank Devos and Shelley Taylor for extending this invite to me.
Appearances are now winding down for the holidays. I do have an exciting month planned for January, which includes working the Auto Show and going to Miss America. I want to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season, as well as a happy new year!
I first have to thank everyone for the outpour of support these last few weeks. Holidays are always a time to reflect upon family and friends, and this holiday season my eyes have been opened more than ever to what a blessing it is to have you all in my life. I feel that the word "grateful" simply isn't strong enough for how I feel.
I know the results last night were not what we were all hoping for, but honestly, I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. The experience I gained throughout this process was truly priceless, and as many of you know, my number one goal is to be Miss Michigan. There is nothing (besides family and health) that I want more this upcoming year, and I am hoping this opportunity not only taught me skills for my future career in broadcasting, but also skills that will make me a better ambassador for MAO. Paula Tutman pulled me aside after the announcement and said, "If you win Miss Michigan, we better be the first station to interview you!" Although that comment may seem minuscule to some, I felt like I had accomplished something major: positive media around MAO! I know it hasn't been easy being labeled a "beauty queen," but I will say that many Channel 4 staff members were asking me about my pageant experience, and I was able to tell them the difference between MAO and Miss USA as well as all the wonderful scholarship opportunities and friendships I have gained throughout my pageant endeavors. I truly feel I was able to educate them and even change their image of what a "beauty queen" is.
Bob Ellis (the news director) asked to personally speak with me last night after the announcement. He informed me how close the decision was and that there is not a doubt he can get me a job with another station affiliated with Channel 4. He is putting a demo disc together for me to send out. So you never know what other opportunities can arise from this. Thank you so much for voting for me! I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday!
You can vote on the home page: www.clickondetroit.com
>> Poll: Who Should Be Local 4's New Traffic Reporter? Or you can click here
to go directly to the online voting. If you want to watch my live audition, click here
I was very excited to see that Channel 4 put a link to the Miss Wayne County website in the article
about me. What great PR for the MAO and MWC organizations!
Also, I will be interviewed on 96.3 WDVD between 8:30am-9am on Monday! So stay tuned...
Thanks you for all your support!
Yesterday could not have went any better! I was at WDIV at 6am to watch the morning newscast and start my one-on-one training with Beth McLeod. Everyone at the station has been so incredibly kind, and I feel as if I am already part of the Channel 4 family. This opportunity has been such a blessing. Now that I have some down time before the announcement, I will fill you in on what all has happened these last few days...
So as everyone knows, I was announced into the top four Monday evening. I was totally not expecting to make that cut! I almost started crying when Paula called my name. It became such a whirlwind. Right after they announced us, they rushed us out of the station to go to Macy's at Oakland Mall for a "makeover" with Channel 4's fashion expert. We started in Macy's Premier Salon, where they put a little product in my hair to make it shine. No cuts or color or anything drastic! We then went to the Estee Lauder counter for make-up tips! All of us finalists have become such good friends that they had Cephus (the only male finalist) put powder on my face! It was really cute. Then they had us go for wardrobe tips. For those of you who saw the story they aired about me yesterday... I did not take the "tip." A purple turtleneck under a red suit does not illustrate "Ashlee" very well! haha. I just stayed with simple and sleek (but of course red!).
That night I came home and had very little time to prepare for my big audition day (the next day) and only slept a few hours. I arrived at WDIV at 6am and trained from 7-9am. I hurried home to meet my parents where the camera crew came to shoot a profile of me. I was so impressed with how Paula edited the piece. I think she truly portrayed the Miss America Organization wonderfully and highlighted my passions for breast cancer and dance. It has been very difficult being labeled a "beauty queen" as an occupation. Obviously, that was out of my control! You have to love television! These last few weeks, I have had to wear the "reporter hat" and having the experience of wearing the crown has been the best expereince for the job I could have! Although I am extremely proud of all my pageant accomplishments, the average TV viewer does not understand the complexity and intellect behind MAO, so I have really had to walk a fine line of how I portray myself to the viewers, since this is a job interview everytime I am on camera. I need all the votes I can get!!! :-)
Well the news you have all been waiting for (which most of you have already heard)... I am a top 4 finalist! I am still in shock. What an honor this is. OK... I have to be short and sweet because I have to be up at 4:15am tomorrow and it is already almost 11pm (ahhh). Each top 4 finalst has their own day to audition on-air live. I happen to be the first of the four finalists, which means I will be doing traffic live on channel four at 4pm and 5:30pm tomorrow. So make sure to tune in! Then starting Friday (Friday-Sunday) you, the public, can vote for your favorite finalist at www.clickondetroit.com
. I am assuming there will be a link on the homepage. Come Friday, I will make sure to send you a direct link, but until then this is all I have. I have one-on-one training with Beth McCloud tomorrow morning at 7am! Thank you for all your support and PLEASE pass the word on to everyone you know to vote!
First and foremost, I cannot thank you all enough for the thoughtful and supportive e-mails you have been sending me throughout the week. I apologize for not being able to respond to many of you individually, they have had us finalists in traffic school ALL Day the last three days. For example, yesterday I had to be up at 3:45am to get ready for traffic school, then didn't get home until 8pm, since I went right from school to teach dance! Busy would be an understatement for my week, but I thank God for giving me such an incredible opportunity.
Ok, so I know you have all been anxiously awaiting to hear who has made the "Final Four." Well...unfortunately you are going to have to wait even longer!!! Channel 4 has noticed a significant increase in their ratings every time they showcase the traffic reporter auditions, so they have decided to "milk" it and wait to announce the top four LIVE on-air Monday afternoon either in their 4pm or 5pm newscast with all of us finalists there for the results. I am really getting used to this whole "Reality TV" thing!
I did have my audition for the top 4 spot earlier today and it went really well. They threw a lot at us, but I was ready for the challenge and remembered everything I needed to. We had several maps to navigate on the green wall and they gave us several traffic scenarios in which we were only given about 2 minutes to memorize and then "lights, camera, action!" For those of you familiar with the WDIV anchors, Ruth Spencer and Rhonda Walker were two of my judges. It has been so exciting. Being thrown into "unknown" experiences while keeping composure has been such a wonderful life skill I have gained throughout this whole audition process. While I was sitting in the "holding" room awaiting my turn, I felt as if I was at Miss Michigan awaiting my interview with all the exciting/anxious butterflies. It made me so eager for June to be here!
For those of you wanting all the nitty-gritty details, after the announcement Monday afternoon, WDIV is going to wisk the four finalists away for a "reporter" make-over. They then will do some profiling at their home and/or work Tuesday. Then each finalist will have their own day to do traffic live on-air at 4pm Tuesday-Friday. Friday-Saturday the public will be able to go to www.clickondetroit.com
to vote for their favorite finalist. As long as they stick to the current plan, the new reporter will be revealed the following Monday.
As I sit here and unwind, I truly cannot express how grateful I am to have all of your support! No matter if I make the top four or not, I know there is nothing to lose, and I am the luckiest person to have all of you in my life! Thanks so much.
I hope the holiday season is going well for all of you! I have some VERY exciting news to share. Out of 332 people who auditioned for the Traffic Reporter position for Channel 4 News, I have made the top ten! The audition process has been quite long and extensive. Like I said, it started out with 332 people who auditioned in front of a panel of judges. From there it was narrowed to 94 where a second set of judges viewed tapes recorded from our auditions and narrowed the field to 30. Last week, I was notified I was in the top thirty and was called back for a second audition on Friday. There, I auditioned for the news director and three other judges with a live traffic board with maps changing every 4 seconds. (For those of you unaware, traffic reporters do not use teleprompters, they adlib the whole thing… very tricky!) Friday night, I received a call from Paula Tutman that I had made the top 15. At that point they ran background checks and today I was notified I am a top ten finalist!!!
As a top ten finalist, I have been invited back on Wednesday and Thursday of this week for Traffic Reporter School. Friday, I will go before the judges once again, this time with an actual chroma (green) wall. After the Friday Auditions, the judges will narrow the finalists down to four. If I happen to be one of the four, they will shoot a profile of me at work and at home this weekend and Monday. Then the four finalists will do live on-air traffic reports as a public audition Tuesday-Friday ( Dec.11-14). This is where YOU will come in IF I make the top four… The public will vote for their favorite reporter Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Dec. 14-16) on www.clickondetroit.com
Monday, December 17th the final four will return for the announcement live on-air. I thought I would prepare everyone in the event I make the top four. I am truly not expecting anything because a lot of these finalists are already professionals in the field and it is truly INCREDIBLE that I have made it this far out of 332 people!!! It is extremely rare to start your broadcasting career in a top ten television market (Detroit). I am so proud to have had this opportunity and if I don't move on any further I am 100% ok with it. I fully believe in the saying "everything happens for a reason." Whatever cards are dealt to me, I know there is a reason for it and I am so blessed to have this experience. Keep your fingers crossed, and I will keep you updated via my blog! If I do make it... I will need all the help I can get with votes.
Much love to you all,